Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer and outdoor cooking season is right around the corner. Unfortunately, outdoor cooking is too often connected with a tremendous amount of waste. Make this year's summer the "summer of green" with these eco-friendly alternatives for a low-impact summer barbecue:
1. Washable Dishes and Cutlery
We use paper plates and plastic cutlery because we're afraid of breakage and we don't like washing them. But this year, ditch the paper plates and plastic cups and use real, eco-friendly dinnerware. The risk of breakage is minimal over grass. If disposable is an absolute MUST, use compostable products like bamboo.
2. Cloth Napkins
Over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the U.S. daily. One ton of them consume 20,000 gallons of water and 17 trees. Consider instead leaving a stack of cloth napkins for guests and providing a hamper for collection and washing. If you prefer not to buy cloth napkins, make your own.
3. A Low-Carbon Grill
Grilling is one of the barbecue's largest contributors to the carbon footprint. Cheaper charcoals are full of chemicals and contribute to air pollution. Instead, consider 'natural charcoal' made from hardwood that contains no additives thereby producing less ash. Natural gas comes from fracking, which also has several negative environmental side affects. For a cleaner option, consider purchasing an electric, infrared grill or even a solar grill. Check out 5 Green Grilling Options for a Smog-Free Summer.
4. Local Veggies
The freshest, most nutritious food can be found at the local farmer's market. Purchase fresh vegetables the morning of the barbecue and support a local farmer while you’re at it.
5. Recycling and Composting Bins
Provide a separate bin for recyclables and food scraps making for easy transfer to municipal recycling bins. In this way people can reduce landfill waste.
6. DIY Condiments
Ketchup, mustard, and relish are staples at any American barbecue, but reduce waste by making your own and storing it in reusable glass jars. Learn about 4 Homemade Condiment Recipes.
7. Natural Bug Repellent
Instead of using commercial toxic sprays, make your own natural repellent or try one of these three chemical-free gadgets.
8. Solar-Powered Tunes
Invest in a solar powered boombox to play your background backyard tunes. Use on-board Bluetooth technology to stream your favorite station and the sun's free energy to keep your phone charged!
9. Reusable Bags and Storage Containers
Use reusable cloth bags to bring home barbecue supplies. Minimize plastic garbage bags by using larger, washable boxes or containers like those made by Rubbermaid for transferring recyclables or carrying dinnerware without damaging it.